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What Does the Bible Say About..Abortion?

What would be the Christian viewpoint concerning child abortion?


Christians hold varying views concerning abortion, most of which are based on emotion and not on clear scripture. For most, the question centers on whether a pre-born child is a life or not.

I have heard one passage in support of the idea that a pre-born is not a life, and have yet to hear a good response to the passage. “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:22-25) The common interpretation of this is that if someone causes a miscarriage/abortion, he must pay whatever the husband decides, but if the woman is otherwise harmed, the one causing the injury must pay in kind. Since it separates the miscarriage from “life for life,” the argument is that the pre-born is not a life. The closest I have heard to an answer to this is an argument that the “mischief” in question is to the child, not the mother. That is, if a man causes a miscarriage and the child then dies, the one causing the miscarriage owes a life for the child’s life. This seems to be stretching the clear reading of the passage. Even if it is in relation to the child, though, it doesn’t address the status of the pre-born, but the status of the prematurely born.

Here are some passages used to oppose abortion. “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.” (Psalm 139:13) “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.” (Luke 1:15) “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen,…” (Galatians 1:15-16) None of these, however, say that the person in question was a life in his mother’s womb. The strongest might be the Jeremiah passage. But even that only shows that God knows what is going to happen before it happens. It simply says that God had planned Jeremiah even before he was conceived. One could carry any argument from that scripture to the ridiculous extreme that a woman should have as many children as possible, right after each other, so that she isn’t failing to bear a child God planned.

It may sound like I am supporting abortion. I am not. I think abortion is wrong. But I base my objection on a basis other than weak arguments about whether or not the pre-born is a life. My objection to abortion is that it is a symptom of a society that is denying personal responsibility. Details can be found in my article, “The Real Sin of Abortion.”

My personal suspicion is that the abortion issue, a hundred years from now (God willing), will be viewed much like the slavery issue. People will realize that the anti-abortion side, like the anti-slavery side, supported something that was good, but that they tried to use the Bible to prove something when the Bible really didn’t say what they wanted it to.